Hillwood Music - All Things Guitar
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Music Talk

Is it o.k. to look at my hands when I play?

   Is it o.k. to look at my hands when I play? This is question that comes up with newer students. My quick answer is "never at the picking hand and occasionally at the fretting hand". In the beginning a student will do more looking as they are getting used to playing the guitar but you want to learn to find the strings and frets without looking as soon as possible. When? That's a fine line sometimes. The more students develop the habit of looking the harder it is to break.

Soloing Ideas

Soloing ideas.
Ideas often come from concepts i.e. play this scale over that chord or play alternate chord changes when soloing.
and combining scales, arpeggios, chromatics.
It's not just pulling things out of the air but finding ideas in these concepts.
That's where many ideas originate from with many players.

Music imitates language in this way. We learn a new vocabulary word and see an example of it being used.
Over time we incorporate that new word into our conversation.
Soloing is very much like building a vocabulary of musical ideas to play from.

Brad Paisley

Jazz is really important to country guitar. Country is jazz on the back pickup.When you switch your Tele from the neck pickup to the bridge pickup and play the same lick, it's instantly twang.

Amy Adams on Playing Guitar!

When I look at my 20s, or when I look at any period in my life, I think about how much time I've wasted trying to find the right man. It's like, if I could go back and do it again, I would have taken guitar lessons. I would have put my energy into something that paid off in the end, instead of trying to improve myself for men. Oh, the time and the energy, trying to impress somebody who was actually a big jerk, you know!

Music: A Therapeutic Release

Music is the best outlet for releasing emotions and dealing with your inner turmoil. It is also a way to bring life to the child and artist inside of you. Each person will have different talents and interests that determine the form of art that is best for them. One thing that ties us all together regardless of age, gender, or culture, is music. 

Maybe you cannot teach old dogs new tricks, but that does not always apply to humans. You can pick up music at any age because the talent lives within your heart.

4 Scales to Master

Many of my students want to know how to play lead guitar or at least integrate single note playing into their music. Who wouldn’t?
If you like American music then there are 4 scales to master.
The major scale (7 note) and major pentatonic scale (5 note).
The minor scale (7 note) and minor pentatonic scale (5 note).
Not necessarily in that order.
Then add the passing tone (blue note) to each pentatonic scale.
In the major pentatonic scale it’s the #2 and in the minor pentatonic it’s the #4.

Joe Walsh

JOE WALSH                                                                   Daryl’s House 2012
Taken from a conversation Joe had with Daryl Hall. What do you think?

James Taylor

One guitarist acoustic players want to play like is James Taylor and who could blame them. I’ve learned and taught many of his songs but if you’re going to learn one song by him learn Carolina On My Mind. It’s a great workout and it’s filled with most of his guitar tricks. This link is from his site and has a bird’s eye view of both hands. He has some unorthodox fingerings for some of his chords and I use his fingerings in a couple of places because it plays better. My advice is to master one section at a time and learn to play them together as you go. Be patient, he didn't learn to play it overnight either.   lists@JamesTaylor.com    


Vibrato is rarely discussed but is very important. It is to music what icing is to the cake. Vibrato is a steady change in pitch. It expresses emotion like nothing else. There are 2 ways it’s done on a stringed instrument.  
  1. – Think of the way a violinist or cellist moves their hand back and forth on the neck while playing a note.  On the guitar this is the most subtle type of vibrato. The idea is to keep the finger firmly pressing down on the note/string while moving the fretting hand back and forth or left to right.

The Black Keys

Love the Black Keys. I read an interview with Dan Auerbach (Black Keys) and Billy Gibbons (the guy with the beard). When talking about the old blues players and what I would call roots music Dan said "I want to say it's simple, but it's deceptive because there is so much soul involved. It's not simple, but minimal". Well said.
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